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Monday, June 24, 2024
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New York Labor Delegation Meets with Israeli Counterparts in Histadrut

Representatives of major New York-based labor unions and Jewish organizations collaborate on visit to Israel, meetings with Histadrut leadership | Henry Garrido of DC 37 Union: "There must be dialogue. If we strengthen our connections as labor unions, we can work together"

בר-דוד עם נציגי האיגודים מארה"ב (צילום: דוברות ההסתדרות)
Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David (center, in white) meets with a delegation of New York labor union leaders (Photo: Histadrut Spokesperson’s Office)
By Nizzan Zvi Cohen

Labor union leaders from New York City, currently visiting Israel as part of a solidarity delegation in cooperation with the UJA-Federation of New York, met this week with the chairman of the Histadrut, Arnon Bar-David, at the Histadrut headquarters in Tel Aviv. The parties discussed the war in Israel and the protests against Israel worldwide, particularly in New York. The union representatives expressed a desire to foster dialogue between the Histadrut and unions in the United States.

Participants in the delegation include Henry Garrido, executive director of the DC 37 union, New York City’s largest public sector union with approximately 125,000 members. Garrido is also a political leader in the Dominican community in New York, a trustee of the Mayor's Jobs Advisory Investment Council, and serves on the board of the New York City Employees Retirement System. Also in attendance was Henry Rubio, president of a union that represents superintendents and administrators of public schools in New York, a union that also helps fight anti-Semitism in schools.

The delegation also included: Rafael Espinal – Executive Director of the Freelancers Union and former New York City Council member; Milagros "Milly" Bermudez-Silva – Vice President of 1199SEIU, a union representing health care workers; Robert Cornegy Jr. – founder and director of the 610 Collective consulting firm and former New York City Council member; Daniel Rosenthal – Vice President of Government Relations at UJA; David Greenfield – CEO of the Met Council, the largest Jewish organization working to fight poverty; Ben Segal, Chief of Staff of the Met Council; and Mark Treyger – CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) in New York, and a former city council member, as well as a former senior advisor to New York Mayor Eric Adams.

Ofir Alcalay, Chairman of the Israel Union of Government Employees, spoke to the delegation about the importance of public relations given the current reality in Israel following the terror attacks of October 7 and the subsequent, ongoing war against Hamas. Bar-David met with the delegation and spoke hopefully of continuing good relations with American unions amidst a complicated situation in Israel and on the international stage.

Participants expressed the importance of a personal meeting. "I could read dozens of articles in The New York Times, but nothing compares to meeting a survivor of the Nova massacre – someone my daughter’s age – and hearing her story,” Garrido said. “What we've seen here is a different perspective, unlike what we hear in the U.S. The disinformation presented on social networks generates emotional anti-Israeli reactions. Therefore, we felt it was important to visit here. There must be dialogue, workers speaking with workers. If we strengthen our connections as labor unions, we can work together.”

“In our unions, we understand the significance of solidarity with other workers,” added Bermudez-Silva. “If unions are weak, then democracy is weak.”

This article was translated from Hebrew by Marina Levy.

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